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Daniel Mesa

Home Gym vs Gym Membership

home gym vs gym membership

Home gyms have been booming lately with more and more people swapping out their gym membership for a home gym. But before you jump in, it is important to look at both options. You do not want to be the guy who spent $15k on a home gym only to end up with poor equipment and a lack of motivation. To help you make your choice, let us take a look at some pros and cons for each.

Pros And Cons Of Building A Home Gym



Having a gym available at all times would be a dream come true for most serious fitness people. With your own gym, there is no need to worry about a gym membership fee or any of the arbitrary hours and closing dates at your local gym. You can skip traffic and just head into your home gym space.


With your own home gym, you can choose what you want to prioritize. For your local gym, it simply does not make sense to buy unique barbells or machines because the majority of their members are fine with generic equipment.

However, if you want to get a swiss bar or custom cable grip you can because the gym is for you and only you.


I am sure we all have our gym friends that we enjoy chatting with. But perhaps the more likely experience at the gym is being frustrated with other gymgoers due to their poor gym etiquette.

Whether it be not cleaning machines, taking too long, or just being flat-out rude, these factors are all eliminated when you decide to build an entire gym for yourself.



There is really no sugarcoating the fact that a quality home gym for people that are used to lifting weights will probably set them back a few thousand dollars depending on some factors.

If you are more of a casual gym goer, this cost may be less. We will delve deeper into a cost analysis later on.


Here is where being at home becomes a double-edged sword. If you work out at home that means lots of things can distract you: pets, kids, spouses, work, etc.

If you build your very own home gym, it really falls on you to make sure you are locked in at all times.

Pros And Cons Of Commercial Gyms

large commerical gym


Relatively Affordable

This varies a lot by the city but for a commercial gym like Crunch or LA Fitness, the standard range is somewhere between $15-$5o per month. This is really not that much when you consider all the complicated equipment and amenities you get for a monthly membership. My local gym for example has a sauna, smoothie bars, and locker room for all members for about $15 per month

Multiple locations

If you travel a lot, lots of these gyms let you attend any one of their locations for a small addition to your membership costs.

Variety of Equipment

Commercial gyms have tons of equipment that you neither have the space nor money to acquire. Due to their scale, commercial gyms can afford to splash on machines for every single muscle you can think of and have rows and rows of treadmills, stair masters, and other cardio equipment.


I don’t know about you, but there is something about being in a gym surrounded by a bunch of people getting after it, that makes me want to push harder myself. Furthermore, most commercial gyms have personal trainers ready at all times if you really want to feel extra motivated.



Most people do not live next to their gym. Therefore, you will need to drive there and back multiple times per week. This just gets annoying very quickly, especially if you tend to do it during high-traffic hours. Not to mention, the gas costs can add up.

Gym Membership Contracts

Commercial gym membership fees usually provide lots of value for their price but when they are usually some stipulations that add on to your cost. This varies by gym but some of the classics are late fees, annual fees apart from your monthly fee, and cancellation fees.

These memberships are also not that easy to get out of. It is 2022, and if I want to cancel my gym membership, I have to go in myself and speak to a rep.


If you to the gym during peak hours (6 AM-10 AM and 5 PM-8 PM), the gym can get crowded very quickly.

Not only is this annoying since you will probably have to wait for workout equipment but if you are someone that is just getting started, it can be really intimidating.

Different Types Of Home Gyms

For the sake of cost comparison, we will take a look at a few hypothetical home gyms. Naturally, the workout equipment you choose to buy will depend on your fitness goals but for the sake of argument, let us considers a few possibilities:

Minimalist home gym: Here we have a home gym built by perhaps someone who just wants to stay in shape and be able to get a good workout in from the comfort of their home. To minimize costs, they will rely a lot on body weight circuits and exercises.

  • Pull-up bar: $50

  • Dip bars: $60

  • Basic kettlebell set: $500

  • Jump rope: $20

  • Resistance Bands: $100

  • Yoga mat: $10

The total cost is about $750

Quality home gym: This home gym was made by a serious lifter who wants to keep the cost down while still getting being able to perform all the major compound lifts with a few accessories.

  • Barbell: $200

  • Weight plates: $1000

  • Rack: $800

  • Flooring: $1000

  • Dumbells: $500

  • Rowing machine for cardio: $600

The total cost is about $4000

All-out home gym: This home gym was made by someone who has plenty of space, time, and money to build an incredible home gym. They have all of the basics covered, and have even managed to get some fancy or expensive equipment along with some cardio machines.

  • Barbells: $1000

  • Premium plates: $1000

  • Rack: $800

  • Flooring: $1000

  • Dumbells: $1000

  • Cable Pulley Machine: $2000

  • Gym Machine of Choice (Leg Press, Hack Squat, Chest Press, etc): $3000

The total cost is about $10000

Cost Comparison: Home Gym vs Gym Membership

Let us do an analysis to see how a home gym vs gym membership would really compare in the long run in terms of price over a 5-year time horizon.

Year One

  • Minimalist home gym: $750

  • Quality home gym: $4000

  • All-out home gym: $10000

  • Basic gym membership: $200

  • Premium gym membership: $1500

Year Five

Here, the cost of the home gyms remains static as it is a one-time cost, there may need to be some maintenance but that cost is marginal.

  • Minimalist home gym: $750

  • Quality home gym: $4000

  • All-out home gym: $10000

  • Basic gym membership: $1000

  • Premium gym membership: $7500

What Can We Take Away From This Comparison?

Home gyms vary a lot by who the person that will be using them is. But regardless, it will take years before the financial cost of a home gym starts to save money for you. However, if you are willing to make this investment, you have a whole gym to yourself within your own home.

Considerations For A Home Gym

Getting Started

If you are unsure where to start, think about what fitness goals you have in mind and the specific needs you will have to reach those goals. Common goals could be strength training, losing weight, or weight lifting.

From there, start looking around your house for a good place for your home gym setup. Maybe the garage, basement, or even the backyard are all fine choices

Next, you really want to keep your budget in line with how serious you are about your goals. If you are just a casual gym goer, do not break the bank for the latest rack and state-of-the-art barbell. Just go for some basic equipment and maybe move up from there

On the other hand, if you have a serious goal of building muscle to be a bodybuilder and are very self-motivated, go ahead and order yourself a nice rack with some weights to get started lifting ASAP.

Types of Equipment To Get

gym equipment at home gym

Barbells: These are essential tools for your home gym. There are different types of bars but I would keep it basic and get a simple one as you will be using it for all of your compound lifts. With just a barbell and some weight, you can have an incredibly effective workout.

Power rack: Another essential, since I do not expect many of you are lifting 1000 pounds, any generic rack should work just fine. You should make sure to get one though for your safety. The last thing you want to do is be struggling with a barbell on your chest in your own gym

Pull-up bar: A pull-up bar is great and often times you can even build it yourself if you are handy. You probably will not have access to all those row and pulldown machines anymore at home, so pull-up just became your new best friend

Cardio Equipment: There are so many options here, it really just comes down to your own lifestyle and fitness goals. Whichever piece of equipment you choose, as long as you are working hard and burning calories you should be fine.

How And Where To Buy Home Gym Equipment?

Great, you decided what you want next to actually acquire some of the items you need. If you are looking to save money, you can shop locally on Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, or Craiglist to find some cheap used equipment. Another great trick is attending auctions for your local college or university. Lots of times the fitness departments of these places have some quality equipment they are looking to offload for cheap.

If you want your home gym equipment to be new, that is understandable. However, given that this is a large investment, I would make sure to do heavy research on any product and take a look at customer reviews.

Additional Resources For Home Gyms

It is 2022, and as with all other aspects of your life, you should take advantage of that and apply it to your home gym by turning it into a smart home gym. No, I am not talking about Peloton or Tonal, I am instead talking about the abundance of free resources online from trained fitness instructors.

Just go on the app store and search for home workouts and you will find a number of workout apps and fitness tracking apps that are completely free. Within these apps, they are often preset routines and workouts ready to go. So yeah, you no longer have instant access to your gym’s personal trainer since you started working out at home but it does not really matter.

You have access to thousands of fitness instructors and videos ready to give you a full body workout or teach you proper form. If you want something even more interactive, there are free video or live stream classes that you join in on and feel like you are part of it.

Conclusion: Should you build a home gym?

At the end of the day, it is all down to personal preference and individual fitness goals whether you decided or not to take the leap of faith and build your own home gym. At the end of the day, you can have a great workout at a home or commercial gym.

One thing I will say though is that, do not be afraid to get started just because you see people on the internet with $50k home gyms full of high-end equipment and think that this is the only way to go. I have personally seen people at home gyms within multistory apartment buildings, do not limit yourself: if you really want a home gym you can certainly get it.


Can I build muscle with just a home gym?

Of course, you can! All your muscle need is resistance, whether that comes from a barbell with weights, bands, your body weight, or a dumbbell does not really matter. And sure, you will not have all the fancy machines that a gym does, but plenty of great bodies have been built with just a barbell and a pullup bar.

What if I live in an apartment?

If you have the space then go for it. I would just make sure to heavily pad your floor to avoid disturbing your neighbors and damaging your floor.

What if I cannot afford a home gym but want one?

Don’t sweat it, just stick with a commercial gym for now. If you really want to have your own space, slowly add things as you know it budget for them. Maybe a barbell here and a dumbbell. Before you know it, you will have a good setup.